Electricity-generating solar panels mounted on the roof of a building in Binh Thuan province (Photo: thanhnien.vn)
Most recently, the southern province of Binh Thuan sent a proposal to the Prime Minister asking for such an extension to remove difficulties and create favourable conditions for investors of solar power projects.
To encourage the development of renewable energy in Vietnam, the Prime Minister issued Decision 11/2017/QĐ-TTg dated April 11, 2017, about mechanisms to encourage solar power projects, which took effect on June 1, 2017 and lasts until June 30, 2019.
Accordingly, for solar power projects which were connected to the national power grid before June 30, 2019, Vietnam Electricity (EVN) would buy the entire power output at VND2,086 (9.35 US cents) per kWh for 20 years.
This means that if solar power projects are not connected to the grid before the June 30, 2019 deadline, the purchasing price of electricity could be lower and won’t be fixed for 20 years.
According to the People’s Committee of Binh Thuan province, there were 113 areas in the southern province with the potential for developing solar power projects over a total area of 14,198 hectares and potential output of 11,648 MWp.
While Binh Thuan province’s solar power development planning project to 2020 was waiting for approval from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, some 90 solar projects were registered in the province with total output of 5,341 MWp, total area of 6,720 hectares and total capital of VND137.2 trillion (US$5.97 billion).
Of them, 28 projects with a total capacity of 1,475 MWp were added to the national and provincial power development plan. Twenty-three projects were granted licences and investors pledged to start construction by the end of 2018 and generate power before June 30, 2019.
For other projects, investors were preparing for their investment licences.
The province, however, said that it was difficult for solar power projects in the province to be completed and generate power before the June 30, 2019 deadline because many of them were located in areas of national titanium reserves and must wait for approval from the Prime Minister before implementation.
Thus, Binh Thuan province asked that the deadline be extended to the end of 2020 to give investors time to complete the projects.
Binh Thuan province’s proposal was raised after the Prime Minister agreed to extend the deadline to the end of 2020 for solar power projects with capacities of more than 2,000 MW in Ninh Thuan province.
Energy experts were concerned that other provinces, like Khanh Hoa and Binh Phuoc, could also ask for the extension.
Khanh Hoa province now has 17 solar power projects to be developed with a total capacity of 700MWp and Binh Phuoc has 22 projects with capacity of 2,500 MWp in total.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade in September required localities to evaluate the compliance with planning of 205 registered solar power projects with a total capacity of 16,500 MWp nationwide.
These projects did not include more than 70 others with a total capacity of 3,000 MWp already approved to be added to the power development planning and pledged to be put into operation before June 30, 2019.
As of the end of September, EVN signed 35 power purchase agreements with solar power investors with a total capacity of 2,271 MW.